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There is often a big difference between saying that you're building community and actually doing it.

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

We asked a few coliving questions to our member Rick Schols, co-founder of Sowebuild. We love to ask where the coliving interest came from, and more often than not, it all started with a personal story.

Hey Rick, tell us how / when did you first hear about the concept of coliving?

I learned about the concept of living in community by experiencing it firsthand, when I moved to Switzerland in 2018 to practise Aikido: a Japanese martial art.

My teacher has his dojo in Montreux, where an Uchi Deshi program (to be an internal student for 30hrs per week) is offered.

I trained here for one year until my blackbelt degree, while helping to grow our company at the same time.

I've been living in community and working remotely ever since, visiting countries across the world (Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Japan, India, Turkey, Ukraine), to experience coliving deeper and explore different versions of it.

So quite naturally, finding community in coliving/coworking is at the core of what we do at Sowebuild.

When/how did you start working in the industry?

After I understood what value living in a community brought to me, we were eager with our company to integrate the principles in our practice.

Our company at the time was building software and services to connect tenants in coworking places, so the link to coliving was quite easy.

Tell us more about Sowebuild, how did it start and what is your goal/purpose? What is the story behind the name?

Sowebuild is a community and tech consultancy for real estate projects. We offer strategy, management and tools for places where people live and work.

We started to think from different perspectives what was happening in the built environment and how we could support building more social places.

We have a hands-on attitude and So we just started helping to build places where people love to live and work.

Who are your usual clients?

Our main customers are real estate owners, developers, operators that are looking for ways to elevate the integration of community living & working in their projects and need a strategy, management, plus digital tools in order to do so.

But we also help architects, facility managers, governments, even lifestyle and educational coaches with their communities. As long as 'community' and 'technology' are at the center of the conversation.

What do you like the most about your job?

Coliving is all about people: we love people! And we love helping businesses to grow. So we do anything for our clientsand their community members to support them in this journey.

How big is your team today? Are you all remote? How is that working out? How do you maintain a good team spirit?

We are currently about 12 people plus an additional team of outsourced developers and designers, working fully remote from The Netherlands, Malta, Turkey, Ukraine, India. Next to that, we are curating a suite of preferred partners from all over the world, like Conscious Coliving (Matt Lesniak and team), Coliving Life (Jonathan Andersson), and Art of Co (Gui Perdrix) to name a few. Building our own community is obviously quite a passion and we love to work on this consciously. Working remotely is baked into our process, we want to inspire our team to work from wherever they feel most happy. We use different kinds of tools and practices to let everyone feel included. We have our slack group and organise weekly online meetings based on department (Customer Success, Marketing, Sales, UX Design) / topics (Engagement, Concept Development), and our team members can tap into every conversation they want to be part of, learn more about or grow in their personal aspirations.

What is the most important for a coliving community to thrive?

A people centred approach. This sounds easy but often it's not.

There is often a big difference between saying that you're building community and actually doing it.

What is the biggest challenge you have encountered so far in the industry?

A still very traditional and outdated mindset of many actors in the real estate industry.

Community is often still seen as something alternative, difficult to measure or just a hobby on the side. We can and will show them why and how it's not.

Have you seen any changes in the industry since you started?

Yes! Over the last 3 years, we've seen a significant rise and awareness of the importance of community in both the residential and commercial market. Finally, things seem to be slowly changing for the better!

Why did you join Coliving Hub?

We are always looking for ways to expand our knowledge and share our experiences. Coliving Hub is a perfect platform for that.

Anything fun you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

We recently published an article in Coliving Insights Magazine about our view on coliving and technology. You can download the magazine here.

Also, we organised our first-ever Community Manager Mastermind on the Co-Liv Platform: a series of 6 episodes with about 40 community experts from all over the world. We have a summer break now but will continue around September. The aim is to create more awareness around the topic of community management/facilitation, to start a process of accreditation, and build a community of community managers. you can read the summary of the series on Linkedin and our website.

And last but not least, we are making much progress now with our growing community engagement platform: visit Buildr Apps to learn more.

Do you believe coliving is here to stay?


Thanks for reading.

Read more about Sowebuild here.

Get in touch with Rick Schols on Linkedin.

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